Last Thursday 28th September was national poetry day. Poetry remains a core element of the English curriculum from reception onwards, but the manner of pupil engagement with it as an art form is evolving.
Slam poetry, or performance poetry, is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst young people. Organisations such as SLAMbassadors (run by the Poetry Society) are harnessing this trend and bringing competitions and performance opportunities to young people across the country.
So why get children to perform poetry?
Aside from the self-confidence and performance skills that can be gained through this medium, performing poetry can help children to better understand and engage with the text itself.
Speaking poetry out loud allows children to engage with literary devices in a tangible fashion; having to get their mouths around the likes of alliteration, rhyme and onomatopoeia can help children to recognise these features and feel for themselves what effect they have upon a text.
How can technology help?
There are a number of apps out there which can help get children get started writing poetry. You can find a list of some great digital poetry tools for the iPad here.
Most children’s access to performance poetry will be through YouTube, so giving them the opportunity to create their own video content (using a tool such as iMovie) can be a great way of engaging them with the art form; children who would struggle with performing in front of an entire class are given the opportunity through film to gain the performative skills (volume, pacing, pitching ect) without the pressure of a large live audience.
If any children in a class claim to have never heard any performance poetry, this is a great (and completely bad-word free) rap to show them to prove otherwise:
We guarantee at least one child in the class will know every word.